Monthly Archives: October 2014

It’s Halloween? I’m sorry kids.

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It’s Halloween. I just remembered when some (no doubt cute) little kids just knocked on the door. I could see small shadows and heard little voices that sounded cute. The door went unanswered ūüė¶

Halloween door

Not my door

We forgot Halloween in this house this year. I’m too busy trying to get through each day and my son is in the last throes of his Masters course. Forgot, even though I had a conversation with some students today about appropriate movies for their Halloween scary movie sleepover (in lieu of trick or treating as they couldn’t book in a parent to escort them). We also may have been hiding from the sudden heat of the day in the dark of the lounge room with the awnings down and the blinds closed and neither one of us would move to the door. The kids probably remembered getting good stuff last year from this house, because again we weren’t prepared, but we had cool junk food in the cupboard that day for some reason. This year is a dud year for us Halloween-wise. I’m sorry kids.

I really am miffed why there is Halloween and trick or treaters here. There is only a little advertising with some shops cashing in on the celebration, mainly the ones that sell things very cheaply. It is not Australian tradition to have Halloween, it is only in the last 10 years that it has started being taken up by young people and trick-or-treaters have started popping up in suburban streets. I haven’t found anyone here who knows anything about why the celebration even exists. “Google it” I told them. What a statement on society that an annual celebration would be picked up without understanding it’s background and relevance- such materialistic and shallow and socially driven people we must be?!

Pumpkin yard

Contrast the knocks on my door tonight with the absolute silence heard on Halloween when we lived in North Carolina. We were prepared then- a basket of snack sized sugar treats and costumes ready to pop on- and no one came. My students lived and breathed Halloween that day but apparently in my apartment complex no children were allowed out. Maybe they were busy, or worried about safety, I thought. The next week my students cleared it up for me. What was habit apparently was that parents of small dressed up children would drive their kids to the best neighbourhoods where they didn’t have gates that got in the way. Those neighbourhoods were the best return for effort, fully prepared with the best treats, the most awesome scary front yard decorations and they had even set up haunted walks for the kiddies. Being a visitor, I was completely out of sync. They don’t tell you that stuff at induction.

The second year I was in North Carolina we left our costumes in the cupboard again and went to Carowinds in Charlotte to join in the Scarowinds Halloween night. That was disappointing on the scare factor but awesome on the going on rides in the dark factor.

Carowinds HalloweenCarowinds

Americans know how to turn it on for Halloween, they have been doing it since the Irish and Scottish immigrants of the mid-19th Century elevated it’s presence and popularity¬†in North America. Halloween became celebrated coast to coast in North America at the beginning of the 20th Century.

I wonder if, in 100 years, Australians will celebrate Halloween with as much gusto (and spending) as the United Stated currently does?

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What does pain feel like?

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I often wonder how what I feel as pain compares to what others feel as pain.

Other people and myself use similar words to describe different types of pain, such as “a thin sharp knife piercing my hand” and “a gnawing grinding pain in my chest” so I know the pain I have is the same types of pains others have. Putting words to pain is helpful in this way, as doctors can get a sense of what could be going on according to the types of pain felt and where.

I am also getting better at categorising my own pains. Thudding pain, dull heavy ache and sparks of nerve pain are all very different in feeling and in how demanding they are of my attention.

However, the intensity of pain according to my own head’s reading of that pain is a lot harder to compare to how others interpret pain.

Pain scale

When someone else says they are in terrible pain and are at an 8, are they at 8 on my 1-10 scale of pain?

or would I call that a 6? or a 10?

Am I weak and basically a hypochondriac with all my whinging about pain?

or

Am I bearing a lot of severe pain, more than most would get up and go to work with?

or maybe somewhere in the middle?

Apparently my body perceives more pain that it should. That is part of fibromyalgia. I know that to be true because sometimes a child grabs me on the arm to gain attention and it hurts enough to make me wince and tell them not to, when it’s really an innocent action that is probably done to other teachers without this reaction. I bruise easily too, so I see the physical sign of that child’s grab as well.

Today the pain was bad, especially in my legs and hands. I think it really was bad and I perceived it as even badder. Double whammy. Maybe some of the worse pain I’ve had while at work and walking around. Like always, I didn’t explain it to anyone and I didn’t go home. I started walking more like a hip swinging waddling duck this evening. Feeling like I couldn’t cover it up started getting me down and made me feel small and unimportant.

The worst part of this is, the pain in my legs is becoming unbearable and I have no choice but to push through it and try to cover it up all over again tomorrow.

Hope is what gets me through. Hope that my current tests are going to show something. Hope that my Dr tells me something I can bear and hope he can give me some medication that helps. One thing is for certain, after tomorrow I have 5 days to recover and work all this diagnosis stuff out before I have to work again.

fibro and pain perception

What does pain look like?

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When in pain, I may:

-look ok

-dress well

-participate like normal

-say relevant things

-sound intelligent

-have good ideas

-provide constructive feedback

-do my job

-tell a joke

-help out others

-take on responsibilities

-look active

-refuse help

Pain man

When in pain, I may also:

-be worried inside

-be focused on just getting through

-feel overwhelmed

-take time away

-choose an easier way

-conserve energy

-simplify tasks

-sit down a while

-walk slowly or shuffle

-breathe heavily

-ask for assistance

-lose my words

-lose concentration

I can’t tell you how to read it, you just have to be observant and aware that pain looks like many things. I would hold up a flashing sign for you but I couldn’t keep my arms above my head for even half a minute.

Banana

I wish you well

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Is it natural to wish that good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people?

That would be very true of big bad things, like committing a crime. We have strong consequences to breaking the law that hopefully reflect the severity of the breach of law. Big good things, it’s not so clear. If someone lives selflessly serving others then the reward is internal and personal. Material goodness must come as a gift, it does not come naturally in this situation. But what we hope is that the person who does good big things has a good, happy life.

Now consider the everyday good and bad things. I mean things like being friendly or stealing stationary. In addition, consider if generally (i.e. most of the time) a person is good or bad when he or she interacts with others, such as with positivity and enthusiasm v’s negativity and nastiness. Or perhaps that person is selective as to where niceness goes- that cannot be a good trait either.

In the everyday good case, if you are friendly and positive and enthusiastic… that’s really lovely, I wish you well, I wish you many happy successes.

On the other hand, if you are everyday negative, nasty, selectively nice and steal stuff without asking… I don’t mind if you struggle a bit and maybe fall over thin air and cry and briefly think you have no friends.

Is this natural or unforgiving? Is it also nasty?

Take this one step further. Consider two exes. A good ex and a bad ex. You can use your imagination to think why each one may have earned their category.

Is it natural to be happy that a good ex is happy in life after you, while gaining some deep justification or personal cleansing when a bad ex is having a hard time at life?

I’m sure you are a nice person if you’re reading my blog and got to this point of this post… I wish you well ūüôā

Lego niceness

The Homeless Homes Project

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The Homeless Homes Project

Brian J Reynolds: Homeless Homes Project &emdash;
Tonight I had the urge to look at the latest Frankie magazine. ¬†I only discovered the softly printed indie-crafty magazine while rushing up a supermarket aisle two months ago. So far I can’t explain why I love it, it just resonates with me (possibly it taps into my creativity, just not sure yet!). I don’t pick magazines up much, but Frankie is full of images and short articles, so it is easier for my short attention span to manage.

So tonight I flicked through the pages of the magazine and read just a few bits and pieces. Except, there was one story that I read all the way through. In fact, the pictures accompanying the story won me over and then I gave the article a chance. It was a one page article about a guy in Oakland California who makes moveable mini houses for homeless people to live in. His name is Gregory Kloehn. There were many of the little houses pictured. They are cute, all designed differently, made mostly with materials found dumped on the streets, and look well made and tough. But most importantly, these mini houses provide a home for some of the people stuck living on the streets of Oakland, year after year.

Reading this article, my mind just blew up.

What a fantastic thing to do!

What a great project to channel one’s creativity!

What a valuable service to do for the city!

How much rubbish must get taken off the streets and repurposed?!

How does he come up with the designs?

What designs could you use?

How hard are they to make?

How much do the homeless people love their mini houses?

Is there a rule about where they can be placed?

Would this work in my city?

Could this program work all over the world?

What other projects could be done to help homeless people?

What help do homeless people want?

Why is it that this article is stimulating my tired mind?

Why am I inspired by stories about helping others?

Reading about people like Greg makes me wish I had more control over my mind and my creativity, the confidence to take my ideas somewhere and the confidence to help more people.

To read about the project, go to Homeless Homes Project.

Brian J Reynolds: Homeless Homes Project &emdash;

Homeless Homes Project Slideshow by Brian J Reynolds

One Lovely Blog Award

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Thank you to Melinda, at Treefall Writing, for thinking of me for the One Lovely Blog Award. I am not sure I deserve it yet, being a new blogger whom I think is still trying to find her feet.  That said, It is lovely for my blog to strike a chord with others who come back to see what I might have to say day by day.  It is encouraging to know there are other thought-filled people out there who put time and consideration into this blogging thing, and who fill our WordPress readers with a huge variety of stimulating ideas and experiences.  Thank you again Melinda for the nomination!

One Lovely Blog Award image

In accepting this nomination, I need to tell you all a little more about me:

  1. I am originally from Tasmania and visit family there regularly.  It is a lovely scenic place but I left in 2003 to live a different lifestyle in the surrounds of Melbourne, a large cosmopolitan city with plenty of adventure, entertainment and importantly, work and study opportunities.
  2. I have one son.
  3. I have been teaching for 11 years, including a stint in the United States for 2 years.
  4. I love retro, 60s and 70s stuff and I do not know why. Perhaps it is a subconscious desire to return to or recapture the feeling of childhood (that is very deep huh?).
  5. I love going to antique and collectible auctions, bidding and buying random stuff that I can sell on my second-hand stall and some things that I can keep for my own collections.
  6. My mind comes up with too many ideas for the amount of time, energy and money I have at my hands.
  7. I hate living with chronic illness and I think I sometimes use my blog to vent my frustrations with my life.

Since joining WordPress I have become enthralled in the variety of posts and the openness to which people share their experiences, their writing and their art.  This is handy especially when I have to spend a lot of time resting my body after work and on weekends. My interests vary depending on my mood and include art, writing, travel, humour, illness, and just life really.

Some blogs that I have connected with and would like to nominate for the One Lovely Blog Award are outlined below. Please go and have a look at them and see if they connect with you too.

Motivating Giraffe – The cutest hand drawn illustrations with captions that reflect life and it’s little problems. ¬†Brings a smile to my face every time. ¬†Some of the art work can be purchased through etsy too.

myfriendlucy¬†– I’m a teacher, I can’t resist a cute picture book. ¬†This blog reviews children’s picture books and I love just scanning through the posts for inspiration.

Kindness Blog – I love reading these stories of kindness, both big and small gestures to be kind to others, they support my faith in the kind nature of humans and remind me to do good wherever I can.

Sarcoidosis Soldier РThe writer of this blog also lives every day with chronic illness and often explains situations I can connect with directly. We are both in our forties and are both trying to live our lives as fully as possible in the new normal that we have been thrust into.

Choosing Hope – This lovely young blogger is dealing with living with a chronic illness called POTS in her twenties. Her blog has a very positive but realistic message.

atleastihaveabrain РThis thought goes through my mind many times a week.  I have a lot to learn from Helen, who remains positive and very active in supporting her family even though she faces many challenges with her health.

autisticandproud – 14 year old Fionn inspires with his braveness and openness to share his life, struggles and successes, with aspergers.

jmgoyder РJulie is a wife and mother trying to juggle life at home with life at the nursing home where here husband now lives.  A really lovely lady who generously shares her life experiences and her feelings with her readers.

Your Inner Art РThis blog helps me sort through the confusion in my head and tap into the inner creativity that is hidden in me somewhere.

Raising My Rainbow РThe journey of a family with a son who loves expressing femininity.  This blog encourages the reader to rethink gender in our society, without explicitly doing so.

rubyonesock РThis blog is written by a friend.  Her thoughts are quite random and very engaging. Hopefully by nominating her for the One Lovely Blog Award she will write more often!

Travelosopher – Random thoughts, life, travel, art all collide on this blog. Plenty to think about here for those who love to travel and who love to reflect critically on the everyday.

If you would like to accept the nomination, you need to write a post that includes:

– a link back to the person who nominated you

– the One Lovely Blog Award picture

– 7 facts about yourself

– a list nominating a number of blogs for the award as well

You must also contact your nominees and let them know they have been nominated.

Testing times

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Currently I have been undergoing diagnostic tests to see if perhaps another illness could be added to my list of complaints. One might think this is a productive process as information will come from these tests which can be used by my rheumatologist, that can inform treatment. Yes, on paper tests seem like a good idea. But in reality, I think tests are becoming more and more a bad idea. For me anyways. Here are five reasons why:

Fibromyalgia brain1. I am hypersensitive to pain. That means that my body receives pain about five to ten times what most other people feel. Therefore, “You will feel a little sting” means nothing to me. With my body, there is no little sting, especially when you are prodding about trying to find my deeply hidden veins with a needle.

2. Tests take a while, results take a while, appointments take a while. Living in waiting mode negatively affects your mood, your mental state and your capacity to stay positive. Each appointment leaves me flat like a pancake and I can feel depression hanging there just waiting to get in.

3. Often tests don’t show any conclusive results anyways. ¬†Unfortunately, just because it can’t be seen in testing doesn’t mean it’s not there. Possible waste of time, money, pain and effort. Did I mention that this is the third time in six years I have lined up at the rheumatologist for a diagnosis?

4. The doctors are lovely, the nurses are lovely, the staff are lovely, but there is not getting around it, doctor’s surgeries, pathology offices and hospitals are full of sick people.

This last point really hurt me today. I am very sensitive to others’ feelings, so even in my fatigued zombie state I did not miss two key signals today. The first hurt was when I was in the MRI waiting room, waiting my turn. The lady before me had gone in to be tested and had left behind two middle aged sons. After some random banter they started talking about Mum’s tests and the word inoperable came out. That word made me sad. Sad for the lady and sad that the world has this word.

The second signal came when I was redressing after my MRI was done. Which, by the way the testing lady said I stuffed up because my leg twitched and moved before the contrast went through. At multiple hundreds of dollars, this better not be true, especially with the amount of pain I was in today. The second signal was impossible to miss. Somewhere in the passageway in the pathology area a small boy (he sounded maybe seven or eight) was screaming. Screaming in pain and desperation begging for whoever was trying to do something to him to stop. “Stop it, stop it, don’t, leave me alone” type screaming with full volume and distress. That made me upset. I silently prayed that this boy’s discomfort is short lived and his illness is acute such as with an injury rather than chronic and/or possibly terminal. I am sensitive to others’ emotions and with this being a child, hearing his pain really hurt me inside.

5. Situations like this highlight the empty space beside me. Having a partner to support me in stressful times would be nice. Everyone else seems to bring someone with them in these places.

Perhaps it is third time lucky and all my symptoms get categories finally, and I don’t have to do this ever again. I can only hope.

MRI machine